Ward, Samuel(1786–1839) banker; born in Warwick, R.I. His family moved to New York City (1790) and at age 14 he began working at the prominent banking house of Prime & Sands. By 1808 he made partner, and was soon a head of the firm whose name changed to Prime, Ward & King. During the panic of 1837, he led New York's wealthiest financiers to forestall a repudiation of specie (script) payments by the state and in 1838 he arranged a loan of $5 million in gold bars from the Bank of England for the New York banks. In 1839 he helped found and became first president of the Bank of Commerce. The strain of attempting to control a second specie payment crisis in Philadelphia, as well as among some Southern states that October, broke his health and he died at the end of the month.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.